Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., in the present petition observed that,

“A deadly weapon is one, which is lethal and is likely to cause death when used in the manner in which it is intended. By its very nature, a deadly weapon is one, which is likely to result in a fatality.”

Appellant was convicted of the offences punishable under Sections 393/398 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 25/27 of the Arms Act, 1959.

The present appeal has been filed impugning the judgment for the above-stated conviction and order of sentence.

It has been submitted that the accused was armed with a pistol which he placed on the complainant’s temple and asked him to hand over whatever he had.

While the accused was fleeing from the spot, two patrolling police officials pursued and apprehended him and the police officials snatched the pistol carried by the accused.

Analysis and Decision

Police Officials Testimony

Bench while analysing the facts and submissions in the present case stated that merely because witnesses from the general public that had allegedly assembled at the spot, were not examined does not mean that the testimony of the police officials is required to be discarded.

Supreme Court’s decision in Kalpnath Rai v. State, (1997) 8 SCC 732  was referred in the above context, wherein following was the Court’s proposition:

“There can be no legal proposition that evidence of police officers, unless supported by independent witnesses, is unworthy of acceptance.”

Further, there wasno doubt on the fact that a country made pistol (katta) was recovered from the accused also the fact that he was apprehended while he was fleeing from the spot has also been established.

Question to be determined is whether the appellant’s conviction under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act is maintainable?

The country made pistol (katta) recovered from the appellant was designed to discharge a projectile and therefore, even though it may have fallen into disrepair it, nonetheless, falls within the definition of a ‘firearm’ within the meaning under Section 2(e) of the Arms Act.

Further the Court observed that the possession of ammunition is a punishable offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act. The use of such ammunition is punishable under Section 27 of the Arms Act.

Thus, there is little doubt that the appellant is guilty of committing an offence punishable under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act.

Next issue to be examined is whether the country made pistol (katta) can be termed as a “deadly weapon” under Section 398 IPC?

Section 398 IPC states that if an offender is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of robbery or dacoity, the same would constitute an offence under Section 398 IPC.

Key Question:

Whether the country made pistol (katta) can be termed as a “deadly weapon” even if it is in a state of disrepair?

Court stated that in order for any weapon to be termed as deadly, it should one which is capable of or likely to cause death if used in the manner in which it is intended to be used.

There may be a large number of instruments or objects, which can be used in a lethal manner, however, if they are not intended or meant to be used in that manner, they cannot be understood to be weapons for the purposes of Section 398 of the IPC.

Bench also noted that there are a large number of instruments which if used in a particular manner, may result in a fatality. A pen is not a deadly weapon and merely carrying the said writing instrument, at the time of committing robbery or dacoity, would not constitute an offence punishable under Section 398 of the IPC.

Two necessary ingredients of a ‘deadly weapon’:

first, that it should be a weapon and capable of being used as such

second, that it must be inherently lethal and if used in the intended manner is likely to result in death.

Hence in view of the above analysis, it can be construed that even though the country made pistol recovered from the appellant constitutes a firearm, it cannot be considered as a deadly weapon.

In the present matter, at the material time, the pistol could not be used to inflict any fatal injury, if used in the manner in which it was meant to be used — that is, for the purpose of firing a bullet — on account of it being in disrepair.

Thus the impugned judgment convicting the appellant under Section 398 of the IPC was set aside and his sentence was also reduced.[Sonu v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1213, decided on 15-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., disposed of a petition filed against the FIR filed for offences punishable under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of Arms Act, 1959, wherein it held that,

“The possession of the ammunition was unconscious and there was no threat to anyone.”

In the present case, the petitioner sought the quashing of an FIR for the offences punishable under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of Arms Act, 1959.

The above-said FIR was filed by the petitioner pertaining to the following facts; petitioner was travelling from Delhi to Amsterdam, when 01 ammunition was recovered from his handbag subsequent to which FIR was registered.

Petitioner stated that since he had to rush to Delhi from his native Punjab to reach on time for his flight he got the handbag without thoroughly checking the contents and therefore he himself could not have known the presence of the cartridge in his luggage/hand baggage. Further, it duly verified and mentioned by the petitioner during the IO investigation that the said cartridge belonged to the petitioner and he had Arms License valid in Punjab.

Advocate Jaspreet Singh Rai, representing the petitioner, relied on the decision of Chan Hong Sai v. State, 2012 SCC OnLine Del 3320, wherein it was held that, “A Single cartridge without a firearm is minor ammunition which is protected under clause (d) of Section 45 of the Arms Act.” Though the larger bench did not agree with the above opinion and stated that the possession of the ammunition was unconscious and there was no arm with the accused and there was no threat to anyone, thus the Court rightly quashed the FIR.

Decision

In the present case, High Court relying on the above facts and circumstances stated it is not the case of the prosecution that there was firearm recovered from the petitioner or there was any threat to anyone at the Airport.

Thus, the Court quashed the FIR in the present case and held that “possession of the ammunition was unconscious and there was no threat to anyone.” [Baljit Singh Chahal v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10989, decided on 07-11-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Zambia: This appeal was filed before a 3-Judge Bench comprising of Hamaundu, Kajimanga and Chinyama, JJS., where trial court had imposed the death penalty on the appellant for aggravated robbery under Section 294 (2) of the Penal Code.

Appellant was convicted and sentences for death penalty for the commission of robbery having offensive and dangerous weapons. The Trial Court had referred to a case of Simon Mudenda v. People, (1980) ZMSC 26 in which it was held that in case of aggravated robbery that is, where firearms or other offensive weapons are involved, it was mandatory to give death penalty and Court cannot consider any extenuating circumstances or pass any other order. Therefore, Trial Court gave him death penalty under Section 294(2) of the Penal Code. Appellant contended that he did not have any firearm with him and prosecution did not establish the presence of firearm with appellant.

Supreme Court on perusing all the witnesses found that one eye witness had seen appellant’s accomplice armed with a firearm and this fact was not contested. Two other eye witnesses had seen a plank kind of thing to have fallen from the appellant’s bag which later was found in the ballistic report to be the part of the firearm recovered from appellant. Thus, Trial Court had correctly convicted and sentenced appellant. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Anania Tembo v. People, 2018 SCC OnLine ZMSC 3, dated 10-12-2018]